Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Time Travel.

One of my favorite themes in science fiction. Several excellent books come to mind. Replay by Ken Grimwood and Time enough for Love by Robert Heinlein is another.

I am not going to go into the thought of what if I could go back in time to tell Jim....something. Exercise more? eat right? don't get that job?

Rather the question came up on a social internet board - What would you do if you were transported back to early September 2001.

He said -

I was watching the pilot episode of the American version of "Life on Mars" recently. He is a time traveler and it is set in New York City. The main character (Sam, if it matters) doesn't believe he's in 1973 until the big reveal at the end of the show where he turns around and sees the World Trade Center.

Well, that's quite a shock for him. It was for me, too. I wasn't
expecting it and it surprised me how much it hurt.

But it got me to thinking. If you were to go back in time, through some accident, whether a warp hole or you got stuck in Doc Browns Time Machine accidentally or whatever, and you arrived in early September 2001, with no documentation from the future, nothing that would not exist in that time frame, how would you convince people you were from the future and how would you stop 9/11?

The discussion went on from there amongst us friends to come up with different ways. Bomb threat? Go on the air with Howard Stern? Call the FBI and try to convince them with info you know because it was revealed afterwards?

I wondered if there was a way to stop the planes from even taking off or maybe finding a way to get on the plane and stop it there. I did like this solution, one man said

This one is easy.....I don't have to convince anyone of who I am or what I know. All I have to do is get them to take box cutters seriously and accept the idea of a kamikaze airliner.
On September 8, I will hijack a plane using a box
cutter. I will threaten and scare a few random passengers and order the plane to "buzz" NYC below the level of higher buildings (ie, to make it clear what COULD
happen). But I will ultimately allow the plane to land safely.
The Powers That Be will now take the box/knife as a serious weapon and the idea of a kamikaze airliner will be presented in a manner that can NOT be ignored.

If I couldn't do that for some reason, I would do a combination of trying to get the story out to the government, law enforcement and the media, while also calling in bomb threats and such to the airlines and airports and the buildings. If I had time, I'd talk to someone at every company in and around the twin towers and also to the firefighters and cops. Maybe all of that would be futile, but I'd try.

I mean, really, if you call the FBI and say you are from the future and you know for a fact that 19 terrorists are going to use box cutters to crash airplanes into the World Trade Center on 9/11, they are either going to think you are a kook and ignore you or they are going to think you are in on it and come arrest you.

Some of you may remember the details sufficiently that if they believed you, you could maybe point out people involved, what flights from what airports or whatever, but I have to admit that most of those minute details have flown from my mind after 7 years.

I remember the anger, most definitely, but other than Flight 93, I couldn't tell you the flight numbers of the other 3 planes. I don't remember the names of the 19 guys. I suspect I'm not the only one. And even if you did remember those details, how would you get to somebody high enough to stop it? How would you convince them you weren't making it up?I think it would be very frustrating to watch as 9/11 got closer and closer and nobody believed you and you couldn't stop the tragedy.

In the book I mentioned Replay by Ken Grimwood, the main character is transported back to his college years in 1962. He doesn't understand at first but as he realizes it he starts making money on sports events and then suddenly realizes that he can save Kennedy. He tries and fails. He then watches them arrest some other than Oswald and this person gets executed like Oswald did. The book goes on from there and he relives 5 times.

The questions that time travel raises have always interested me.

1 comment:

Sharon said...

As with the Kennedy assassination, or 911, or Pearl Harbor....there were so many details and people involved to create that 'perfect storm' for tragedy...I guess it depends on how you believe in the world and people -- in sufferings and trials and what's learned from them... (I'll leave it at that, but I enjoyed reading what you and your friends suggested, Betsy!)